The church had long been split into two groups, Western and Eastern. Every now and then a reformer would arise in either or both divisions and for awhile lead some segment of the church into a deeper relationship with God. Such a man in the West was Francis of Assisi. Truly successful for a time, his work was finally put under by the hierarchy of Rome. Peter Waldo of Lyons, a merchant who renounced his secular life, became very active in serving the Lord and drew many unto Him; but he was thwarted in his work and excommunicated by the pope. Neither the Western or the Eastern groups had within them a man who could possibly be the messenger to this age when examined in the light of Scripture. However, there were two men in the British Isles, whose ministry in Word and deed could stand the test of truth. They were Saint Patrick and Saint Columba. It was to Saint Columba that the lot of being the messenger fell.
Though the messenger to the Thyatirean Age was Saint Columba, I want to dwell a little on the life of Saint Patrick as an example to us and also to give the lie to Rome's claim that Saint Patrick was any more one of her than was Joan of Arc. Patrick was born to the sister of Saint Martin in the little town of Bonavern on the banks of the river Clyde. One day while playing on the shoreline with his two sisters, pirates approached and kidnapped all three. Where the sisters went, no one knows, but Patrick (his name was Succat) was sold to a chieftain in Northern Ireland. His duty was to tend to the swine. To do this he trained dogs. So well trained were his dogs that many people came from far and near to buy them. In his loneliness he turned to God and was saved. Then came the urgent desire to escape and return home to his parents. He formed a plan that put his ability as a trainer to great use. He taught the dogs to lie on him and cover his body carefully and not move until commanded. Thus one day when his owner sold several dogs, Patrick commanded the dogs, except the leader of the pack, to get into the boat. The leader of the pack to which he then gave a secret signal ran off and refused to come aboard. While the master and the buyer attempted to get the dog, Patrick got into the boat and signaled the dogs to cover him. Then with a whistle he brought the leader of the pack into the boat and on top of him. Since Patrick was nowhere to be seen the buyer put up sail and moved out to sea. After making sure that the captain was too far out to turn back, Patrick gave another signal to the dogs which caused them to riot. Then he came forth and told the captain that unless he would put him ashore at his home he would command the dogs to keep rioting, and he would take over the ship. However, the captain was a Christian, and when he heard the boy's story he gladly put him ashore at his home. There Patrick went to Bible school and returned to Ireland where by the Word and power of God in many signs and wonders he won thousands to the Lord. At no time did he ever go to Rome nor at any time was he commissioned by Rome. The truth of the matter is that when Rome finally gained a foothold on the island and when they saw the time was opportune, they killed over 100,000 Christians who had over the years grown out of the original group that had come to the Lord under Saint Patrick.
The pure Gospel that was preached by Columba and his fellow workers spread over the whole of Scotland, turning it to God.
About 60 years after the death of Saint Patrick, Columba was born in County Donegal, North Ireland, to the royal family of Fergus. He became a brilliant, consecrated scholar, committing to memory most of the Scripture. God called him in an audible voice to be a missionary. After he had heard the voice of God, nothing could stop him, and his miraculous ministry has caused many historians to acclaim him next to the apostles. So great was his ministry with the supernatural signs following that some (especially students in Rome) have thought the accounts were exaggerated.
In one of his missionary journeys, as he approached a walled city, he found the gates barred against him. He lifted his voice in prayer that God might intervene and allow him access to the people in order to preach. But as he prayed the court magicians began to harass him with loud noises. He then began to sing a psalm. As he sang, God so increased the volume of his voice that he drowned out the cries of the heathen. Suddenly the gates burst open of their own accord. He entered in and preached the Gospel, winning many to the Lord.
On another occasion when he was also shut out from a village, as he turned away to depart, the son of the chief suddenly became violently ill, even unto death. Saint Columba was quickly sought after and recalled. When he prayed the prayer of faith the boy was instantly healed. The village was then opened to evangelization by the Gospel.
The pure Gospel that was preached by Columba and his fellow workers spread over the whole of Scotland, turning it to God. It also overflowed into Ireland and over Northern Europe. His means of spreading the Gospel was one wherein perhaps twelve men under a leader would go into a new area and literally build a Gospel-- centered town. Amongst these twelve men would be carpenters, teachers, preachers, etc., all wonderfully versed in the Word and holy living. This little colony was enclosed by a wall. Soon this enclosure would be surrounded by students and their families in their own homes, learning the Word and preparing to go out and serve the Lord as missionaries, leaders, and preachers. The men were free to marry though many did not, in order to serve God the better. They remained free from state help, and thereby steered clear of politics. Instead of ever attacking other religions they taught the truth for they believed that the truth was weapon enough to accomplish the ends that God had in mind for them. They were absolutely independent of Rome.
Saint Columba was the founder of a great Bible school on the island of Hy (off the S.W. coast of Scotland). When he went there the island was so barren and rocky that it could not bear enough food for them all. But Columba planted seed with one hand while he held the other aloft in prayer. Today the island is one of the most fertile in the world. From this Bible-centered island went forth mighty scholars endowed with wisdom and the power of God.
When I read the history of this great servant of God and the wonderful work he did, it saddened my heart to find that the papal power, lusting to bring all men into its grasp, came and eventually defiled these mission fields and destroyed the truth as it was taught by Columba.